I got invited to a baby shower. When I saw who the mother-to-be is, my first thought was: Hell no, I won't go. You see, I'm still waiting on a thank you note for the wedding gift we sent four years ago. And yes, I can carry a grudge.
When six months went by and no acknowledgement, I asked the bride's mother-in-law to ask Miss No Manners if our gift was received. It was. I thought that might embarrass the bride into a writing a thank-you note. It didn't.
So now I am faced with purchasing another gift that will probably never be formally acknowledged. A part of me is a little ashamed that I would "punish" the baby; it's not the kid's fault his mother is uncultured. The other sticking point is that I really like the grandparents-to-be (the mama's in-laws), who are two of the most generous and classy people I know.
I told Richard that I might slip in a box of thank-you notes with the baby gift. Shoot, I'll even write the note to myself, and address and stamp the envelope, but Richard said to let it go. He is such a killjoy.
In other news, I spent this past weekend in Lubbock for my daughter's sorority's moms' weekend. The weather was gorgeous --- a bit windy, a tad chilly --- but sunny and cloudless. Two other moms and I hit town Friday afternoon, and left just before noon on Sunday. By the time we got home to Dallas around 6:00 PM, Lubbock was bracing itself for a blizzard. Another example of the old Texas saying if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes. I can't believe I missed all the fun and games. The airport shut down, the interstates were closed, and the cattle that we'd seen peacefully grazing in the sunshine as we headed east were now miserable huddles of frozen, snowblinded beef on the hoof. Tech threw in the towel and cancelled classes --- a fact we were informed of via a 4:45 AM phone call from the university, which initially scared the crap out of Richard. (In my case, I have never had the pleasure of that particular heart-stuttering experience. Sometimes being deaf ain't all bad.)
While Paige and her roommates made the weather an excuse to celebrate a long weekend, Mitch was snowed in in Denver, forcing him to miss work on Monday. He didn't land in Dallas until midnight Tuesday morning. I asked my other kiddo, Brent, if Lawton, OK had any snow and he said no --- which I find hard to believe when the Texas panhandle, which is due west of Lawton, was under 4 - 6' drifts in some parts. I was hoping, as the storm system moved towards Big D, that it would dump some of that pretty white stuff on us, but it veered north instead. I swear Dallas has some kind of force field that repels snowstorms.
Anyway, during my visit to Lubbock, Paige and one of her roommates, Chelsea, invited me and Chelsea's mom, Mendy, to their apartment for 'ritas and appetizers. Mendy and I thought this was a lovely gesture on our girls' part until we found out that they were merely providing the space; WE were expected to purchase the food and prepare it. Chelsea, as it turned out, is pretty handy in the kitchen, and she made the jalapeno poppers in the picture below. Paige, however, had a tough go of it trying to mash the ranch dressing mix into the cream cheese and text at the same time. She is studying to become a registered dietician and already I am worried that she is not up to the task.
Zeta Tau Alpha Moms' Weekend Afternoon "Tea"
Looks pretty good, doesn't it? And it was so easy to prepare. The menu included: artichokes with Italian dressing, Parmesan Frenchies (the moldy looking stuff on the colorful plate), smoked salmon crudites, cream cheese topped with Pickapeppa Sauce (not shown) and served with crackers, chips and salsa (not shown) and homemade jalapeno poppers. I couldn't believe it when I saw Chelsea preparing the peppers --- cutting, seeding and removing the ribs --- with her bare hands. The recklessness of youth! I learned a painful lesson years ago to wear gloves when I accidentally rubbed my eye after handling the little suckers.
Well, I need to get some beauty sleep as I am heading to Lawton, OK in a few hours to help Brent move back to Dallas. He's bunking with us temporarily before he is due to report to Ft. Polk, Louisiana. I know he is going to be very glad to see Oklahoma receding in his rear view mirror.
Baby feet: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Tasa_
I've mentioned in a couple of blogs that I am hearing impaired. Actually, saying I am impaired is like saying the Great Wall of China is a fence. I'm not stone deaf, but certainly the next best thing to it, not that there is anything "best" about it. I've been told my hearing loss hovers somewhere between severe and profound. Call it profoundly severe.
With my hearing aid I can hear what I'm focused on --- such as conversation, television chatter, or music --- but background sounds will go unnoticed. To understand speech, it is imperative that the speaker be facing me so I can lip-read. Lip-reading is the only way I can take sound, separate it into syllables, and then string those syllables into words. If the speaker turns away I would still hear him, but he might as well be speaking Klingon for all the sense I'd make of it. My kids learned at an early age this fact of life that comes with having me for their mother. I remember doing some ironing one afternoon and Mitch, who was five, started yammering about his day in kindergarten. I heard him, but being in the middle of a particularly intricate bit of ironing, I didn't want to look up for fear I'd run the iron over my fingers. When I finally set the iron aside, Mitch, extremely put out by now, said, "Mommy, LOOK at me when I talk to you!" I suppose I should be grateful he didn't ground me and take away my privileges for a week.
It started when I was three years old. My mother was the first to notice something was not right. I wouldn't respond when she talked to me or asked a question while my back was turned. Nor would I come running if she hollered at me from another room. She took me to a doctor and the doctor very nicely told her she was being paranoid; that it was typical for little kids to be so absorbed in whatever they were doing, they would have the world --- and mom --- shut out. Given that I was able to converse perfectly normally face to face, she decided the doctor was right.
I turned four and a few months later, it's Christmas. My parents had gone to a party and left me with the babysitter, a high school girl from down the street named Nancy Marks. I have no idea why I remember her name all these years later, and generally I am truly awful at names. Anyway, I can see it now: Nancy sitting in my dad's chair in the living room, me on the floor at her feet, and she's trying to teach me the words to Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I had the worst time understanding her. Looking back, I think the reason for that was because she was singing the words, which distorted them, and also because the melody was in a higher pitch than a normal speaking voice, and I had lost my ability to hear in that range --- not that anyone knew it at the time. Over and over, I had to ask her to repeat what she'd just said. It made an impression on my small brain, and the next day I told my mother what had happened. I can only imagine what must have gone through her mind when I innocently confirmed her fears from months ago: Paranoid, my ass!
As the story goes, I am being tested --- presumably NOT by that first doctor --- and the doctor came out and asked where I had learned to lip read. My parents said I had never been taught; shoot, they were just now finding out their one and only kid had a hearing loss, but the doctor said I was the finest little lip-reader he had ever seen. It seems that while I was losing my hearing, something I didn't know was happening until the infamous choir practice, I was subconsciously focusing on the speaker's lips and teaching myself, again subconsciously, to "read" them. Obviously, I was much smarter than I looked.
What caused it? Probably antibiotics. There are a lot of ototoxic medications out there. Even aspirin, that so-called wonder drug, can temporarily disrupt a person's hearing ability.
My first hearing aid was a body worn instrument, a box a little smaller than a deck of playing cards. I had to wear a harness around my chest and the harness had a little pocket to hold the hearing aid. The aid had a long wire that ended in an earpiece that was inserted into my left ear. My mother, always looks conscious, made me wear the harness and the aid under my clothes, but there was no covering up the cord or the weird rectangular bump sprouting in the middle of my chest.
In the second grade, I got to ditch the box and the scratchy harness for a behind-the-ear (BTE) model that was much less conspicuous. Except for a period in the 90's when I gave in to vanity and wore an in-the-ear version --- a big mistake that was --- I have always worn a BTE aid.
Several years ago the ear drum in my "good" ear, which is like saying a D- is a good grade, ruptured. I don't know how it happened, except I woke up early one morning with severe ear pain. My ENT diagnosed the problem and said it would take several weeks for it to heal. During that time, I was really and truly deaf. I couldn't even hear the clanging of a metal spoon against a metal pan, even with my hearing aid turned up as far as it would go. My hearing did gradually come back, but there was some additional permanent loss as a result of that mysterious rupture.
When he married me, my husband never dreamed his vow to love, honor and cherish would include "...and call her gynecologist for her yearly Pap smear." Not surprisingly, Alexander Graham Bell's invention and I do not get along. I honestly can't recall the last time I picked up a receiver and said "hello" into it. Thankfully, email and texting are wonderful boons, and Skype has potential if they can ever synchronize the audio with the video. But for some things, like doctor appointments, I have to depend on Richard to make the occasional phone call. He's come a long ways from those first stammered medical conversations:
Nurse: Dr. Soandso's office! May I help you?
Richard: Ummm...I need to make an appointment for my wife.
Nurse: Certainly, sir. What does she need to see the doctor for?
Richard: Ummm...it's for a...(aside)...what do you call it?
Me (in background): Pap smear!
Richard: Pap schmear.
Suddenly, I feel like having a bagel.
Cat and friend: icanhascheezburger.com
That awkward moment: 9GAG.com
Zenith hearing aid: http://newgenerationhearing.wordpress.com/tag/digital-hearing-aids/
Man with "hearing aid": http://michiganhearingaidcenter.com/services
Richard and I have never been the kind of couple that goes all out on Valentine's Day. For one thing, having three kids underfoot for years kind of killed the romance. We were either too busy, too tired, or too broke to make a big deal out of February 14th. It's just now occurring to me that our slipshod attitude might have rubbed off on our male offspring, and I'm worried. What if my sons, who were raised with a mom who's happy with a cheap grocery store card and a well-mixed gin and tonic, marry girls who expect a Valentine's trifecta every year?
Now that the kids are grown and out of our hair (mostly), we don't have the excuses we used to. Tonight, I'm treating the cats to a steamed wild Alaskan salmon appetizer in a delicate broth* and served on red heart-shaped plates. Tomorrow night, Richard is taking me out to Ruth's Chris for dinner. Saturday, I plan to reciprocate with an elaborate home cooked meal, either seared scallops in shallot butter or shrimp Creole. I'm leaning toward the Creole with lots of big shrimp, crusty bread and a Greek salad. Brent will be in town, compliments of Uncle Sam, and I've invited Mitch to join us. Their little sister, unfortunately, will be in Austin attending a friend's funeral.
Happy Valentine's Day from SOTSOTR!
*It's cat food. Fancy Feast. If you should run across this description on a restaurant menu, I suggest you not order it. In fact, I would get up and leave and not ever come back.
We may only be a week into February, but senior boys are already sweating bullets over how they are going to ask their dates to prom. Even those with bona fide girlfriends are not exempt from this rite of spring. As a mother to two boys and a girl, Auntie PRUNELLA has seen both sides of the equation and considers it her sacred duty to help poor, beleaguered boys everywhere. Here are some ideas on how to ask that special girl to that most important of high school dances: PROM.
Purchase one big beach ball and as many smaller beach balls as your budget can handle. The more, the better, as you are going for maximum impact. Blow them all up. Enlist friends to help you with the inflating process if you have asthma or are prone to passing out. With a permanent ink marker, on the big beach ball, write NOW THAT I HAVE THE BALLS TO ASK YOU, WILL YOU GO TO PROM WITH ME? Arrange with the girl's mom to bring the beach balls over to her house at a time when your intended is going to be out.
If you have a reasonably good singing voice, serenade the girl at school, preferably at lunch when you can make a spectacle out of it. If you can't sing, ask a friend to do it, or a "Glee" type guy from your school's choir. If you get someone else to do the actual singing, you can be "waiting in the wings" with flowers and chocolates to seal the deal.
THE MAGIC SHIRT
You'll need a white tee-shirt in the girl's size, a box of washable markers in different colors, and some permanent ink markers, also in different colors. The idea is to camouflage the invitation in a hidden word puzzle. Use permanent ink for the words in the invitation; washable ink for the rest of the letters. On the back of the shirt, again in washable ink, write "WASH ME NOW" or enclose these directions with a card or note. When your intended washes the shirt, the random lettering will disappear leaving your "secret" message.
For the really lazy, Auntie PRUNELLA has a deal for you! There's a website that will create a personalized hidden word puzzle for you slackers. It's free, it's easy and it's called Discovery Education's Puzzlemaker. But wait! There's more! The program uses filters to prevent the random creation of vulgar words, so you Romeos out there don't have to worry that your puzzle might be saying more than you intended.
Get a large box, like the kind people use when moving. Go to your local party supplies store, purchase a bunch of pink balloons, and get them filled with helium. Draw a piggy face on each balloon and put the balloons in the box. This will be a bit like trying to stuff an angry octopus into a string bag, but man up and keep trying until you get all the balloons safely inside the box. (If you can find helium balloons shaped like pigs or pink balloons with pigs already stamped on them, so much the better.) Deliver the box to the girl's house with a note that says: THE DAY I ASK YOU TO PROM IS THE DAY PIGS FLY! Then, settle back and watch the action.
ALL TIED UP
This requires string, lots of it, some signs, a gift, and a girl with parents who are very accommodating. Arrange to be at your intended's house when she is going to be out. Fasten the end of your string to your starting point and hang a big sign on it that says START HERE, with an arrow pointing down the length of the string. Your starting point should be wherever the girl lands when she gets home. For example, if she parks (or is dropped off) in front of the house, a good starting point might be the curbside mailbox. Once you've fixed your starting point, meander all over the yard unraveling the string as you go. Anchor the string around trees, lawn furniture, garden gnomes, bicycles, the family dog, cars on blocks, wayward squirrels, passing joggers. At intervals, place signs or notes encouraging her to keep going. When you come to a stopping point (or are fed up with tripping over the string, whichever comes first), that's where you put your sign or note inviting her to prom. I HAD TO PULL A LOT OF STRINGS TO GET YOU HERE. WILL YOU GO TO PROM WITH ME? Or maybe: I'M 'KNOT' JUST STRINGING YOU ALONG. WILL YOU GO TO PROM WITH ME? Better yet, let the end of the string reveal YOU hiding and patiently waiting to pop the question. A small gift would be appropriate, too. If you are really rich, hire a string quartet (ha!) to play softly as you ask her out.
Compose a short prom invite, like (NAME), HOW ABOUT PROM? Construct the invite on poster board, with one board for every letter. Round up as many friends as you have letters, and assemble where you know your intended will be. The more public, the better.
DIY LITE-BRITE You'll need plywood, a drill, Christmas lights rated for outdoor use, and an extension cord. Drill small holes in the plywood to read PROM? or some other short invite. Working from the back, insert a light into each hole. Secure the lights to the board with black duct tape so they stay put. Prop the sign up against a tree or the girl's house and plug the sucker in. If you have some building skills, add supports to the sign so it can be free-standing.
THE OLD STANDBYS
Decorate her locker inside and out.
Deliver flowers to her house.
Have cupcakes, a cake or a large cookie decorated to spell out the invite. Have the goodies waiting for her on her desk before she arrives to class.
Decorate her car. Just be careful you don't damage the finish.
A sidewalk or driveway and chalk. Check the weather first. You don't want your invite washed away in the rain.
Feel free to leave your ideas in the 'comments' below.
Best of luck, boys!
Pink balloons (piggy faces added): http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ngould
Prom lights (cropped photo): http://blog.kevineikenberry.com/leadership/a-creative-way-of-asking-a-common-question/?doing_wp_cron=1362202577.3100109100341796875000
"Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine...that they may see your good works". (Matthew 5:15-16).
I've been at the business of blogging for over 18 months now. In that time, I've posted close to 70 "works" --- some good, a few very good, most so-so --- with a number of others in various stages of development. Despite trying to fly under the radar, I've been seeing a slow, but steady increase in visitors to my little neck of the cyberwoods.
Because he's a good husband, Richard has long encouraged me to shoot for a wider audience, but I was like a roach that scurries into a crack when somebody flicks on the light. So I stayed in the dark and pounded away at my computer writing blogs for fun, not fame or profit.
Then in October I received my first comment that was not generated from a member of my immediate family. It was exciting to know I had briefly connected with someone, and it got me to thinking that maybe it was time to quit putting my light under that bushel.
But I got busy and when I wasn't really busy, I had more excuses than a dog has fleas. Did I tell you I'm the Queen of Excuses?
BRAIN: It's late and you need to get to bed.
ME: This rerun of Frasier is almost over, then I'll go to bed.
BRAIN (15 minutes later): You REALLY need to get to bed.
ME: But it's the Golden Girls, back when Betty White was still cute.
BRAIN: You just conked out there on the couch. GET TO BED!
ME: I'm awake! I'm awake!
BRAIN (20 minutes later): NOW will you go to bed?
ME: I'm too tired to get up.
BRAIN: That's your body telling you you need rest.
ME: It's comfortable here, and I don't feel like washing my face...
BRAIN: Oh, boo-hoo!
ME:...and brushing my teeth...
BRAIN: If I had eyes, I'd be rolling them derisively. Oh...wait...
ME: ...and hanging up my clothes...
BRAIN: So don't.
ME:...and putting on my jammies.
BRAIN: If it didn't kill us both, I'd leave and seek other employment.
ME: Besides, I have a cat in my lap. I can't disturb the cat.
BRAIN: That cat has more sense than you do.
ME: Oooh, look! Killer Klowns From Outer Space* is coming on!
BRAIN (2 hours later): NOW will you go to bed?
The grey matter and I had some major rows on the subject of taking SOTSOTR public. I won't give the play-by-play, but I finally ran out of excuses. And so, against my better judgement, I am taking steps to shine this little light of mine to a wider audience.
Anyone who is a regular reader --- anyone? --- hello? --- will notice some changes: 1) There's a new contact page under About Me. 2) You can subscribe to SOTSOTR to receive email updates whenever I post a new blog. 3) I'm testing a Forums page. This page is currently password protected while I figure out how it works, and if it would be a good fit.
These are small steps leading up to the biggest one of all: getting my little blog out on social media. I just wish I could shake the feeling that I am making a deal with the devil.
Just call me,
Prunella de Vil
P. S. Wow. This blog starts out with a Bible passage and ends with talk of devilish dealings. I don't know how that happened.
*This is a real movie, released in 1988.
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